As you are my oldest grandson, I would like to write this letter to you as you can help the younger ones to understand it in later years.
Even though I expect to go fishing with you this year, I want to write down a few things I would like you to know. Thoughts we don’t often express in ordinary conversation. You know, I am sure, that your granddad can not leave very much in the way of material things as I do not own many things that I can claim title to. But, there are things I do “own” which may be left to you by an understanding between us. Though without that, it would be impossible for me to leave this inheritance to you.
In a sense you might call this letter an instrument establishing a trust. In order for you receive all it’s benefits, it will be necessary for you to aide by it’s conditions. The reason for the conditions is that if I and my generation had been bound by these same limitations there wold have been without doubt more to leave you as well as more for me to use in my lifetime.
First, I leave you miles of rivers and streams. The natural and ever growing number of man made lakes to fish, boat, swim, and enjoy. This is the first condition of this inheritance. You must keep the waters clean. But great problems must be solved. The waste from industrial plants must be made harmless to fish and wildlife. Also weed and pest controls as well as other wash off from agriculture and cities. This will all be a part of keeping the water clean. Picking up your own litter, as well as that left by others. This will help also. My generation has made a start at finding answers to these problems. You must find more. You must also meet problems we don’t even know about yet. You will inherit the water in any case, but it’s value is up to you. The measure of your success will determine the quality of this valuable resource which will be for your use and for you to pass on to your children.
Next I leave you the woods and the fields which not only have fed and clothed me as well as so many other people for so long a time, but have furnished me with the kind of pleasure that puts a man closer to God and nature.
You have already shown me enough of the right things your wonderful mother and dad have taught you to assure me that you will abide by the conditions imposed by this request. You are to use these woods and fields in such a way that you will receive from them the same good things I have. It will make life better and put you closer to God and nature. In doing this you will find better ways to leave the things of nature even better than I have left them to you. This will not be any easier than keeping the waters clean.
Good things never come easy. You will find that help will come in this task from nature itself. Our land and waters are tough, and if given half a chance will heal its wounds from our mistreatment. Just remember to treat it with love and it will bring you many blessings for it is a living thing. Our ancestors, and even some of my generation wasted a part of this precious gift simply because it was a gift. You and your generation must not make this same mistake. Where we failed, you must succeed in finding these solutions and applying them you will expand and develop your own spirit, strengthen your character, and increase your appreciation and love for the very things you are working to pass on to your children.
Tom, I do not want you to think I am being overly generous by leaving you all these treasures. In fact, I guess I am being a little selfish for I intend to use them with you while I am here. It will simply mean that they will take on a deeper meaning to me knowing that I am leaving them in good hands.
You see, I have spent the last twenty years helping to fight the battles of conservation so that I might have these good things to enjoy and pass on to you and yours. So may it be that the same with you. If you are half the man I think you will be, our decedents a thousand years from now may find peace on a beautiful lake, river, or stream, or be in the solitude of a healthy forest you have helped to preserve.
With my love,
Fenton, Missouri, 2/21/1969
I found this letter at the age of 60 and a grandfather myself. It was written when I was 8 before he retired and moved to Spurgeon, Indiana where we fished countless stripper pits together before he died. He and his 3hp Evinrude fishing motor were the inspiration for this site.
William, (Tom) Travis
Mooresville, Indiana, 2/15/2022
Pictured below: My Grandfather Irvin Travis (Left) with my Father Pete Travis after an afternoon fly fishing trip on a stripper pit near Spurgeon, Indiana sometime in the 1980’s.